Council Column – Councillor Nagel
The world seems to have entered a new era of politics where a large number of people have forgotten the importance of financial sustainability in government.
Ironically, this emerging apathy towards fiscal responsibility has come at a time when the world needs sound financial planning more than ever. Across the globe, governments are more stretched financially than ever before.
As record-setting debt is financing an increase in economic activity, I worry that our culture is gaining false confidence around this new financial gluttony. New reckless thinking seems to be that as long as jobs are created and people are shopping, who cares where the money is coming from?
Unfortunately, economic activity paid for by debt and handouts is not a permanent or self-sustaining solution.
One way or another, ordinary families will have to pay for everything that is being given out, either directly through future tax hikes, or indirectly through inflation that erodes our standard of living.
Our municipal government is only one part of this much larger macro economic discussion, but it is still an important one.
Fortunately, Cochrane’s municipal government is still in a strong financial position, despite the concerning trends elsewhere. Cochrane has a healthy level of debt and our property taxes are among the lowest in Alberta across comparable communities. In recent years, we have also increased our capital reserve saving, which means we have been putting extra money aside for future needs. Through a number of tough but responsible decisions, we have protected our community’s finances one budget at a time.
While there is increasing political pressure to throw financial caution to the wind, I believe it is imperative that we continue to keep our budgetary planning under control.
As we look to a post-COVID world, I humbly encourage everyone to take a renewed interest in fiscal responsibility, before it becomes a problem we cannot afford.